Hurdles remain in reducing pot penalties

Marijuana (pot) plants
Marijuana (pot) plants

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It looks like voters may have a chance to weigh in on a proposal to reduce pot penalties.

Monday night, Albuquerque city councilors narrowly voted to put it on the ballot, but that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.

Councilors voted five to four along party lines with Democrats agreeing it should go on the ballot.

The question is whether to change city law to reduce the penalties for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

If approved, anyone caught with less than an ounce would face a $25 fine and no jail time.

Under state law, offenders face a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $100 fine and jail time.

Petitioners in Albuquerque failed to meet the required amount of signatures to get the issue on the ballot, but Councilor Rey Garduno decided to put it to a council vote and now that they’ve voted it through.

They still need Mayor R.J. Berry’s approval to get it on the ballot, and it would take six council votes to override a veto.

KRQE News 13 asked the mayor’s office what he plans to do, but haven’t heard back.

Petitioners in Santa Fe succeeded in gathering enough signatures to get the marijuana initiative on their ballot.

The next step there is for council to hear the issue on Aug. 27. If they choose to, councilors can approve the measure without it going to voters.

Even if the mayor decides not to veto the measure, there could be another problem – a shortage of space on the November ballot.

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